Further woe was heaped upon England's miserable Ashes series as Australia cemented their dominance on Day Four of the 4th Test to take a 4-0 lead in Melbourne.
The hosts established a visible gulf between them and their rivals, triumphing by eight wickets and edging ever closer to the whitewash that few predicted would have come about at the series' start.
|England 2nd Inns: 179 (61 ov)|
|Root||run out (Johnson)||15||38||24|
|Pietersen||c Harris||b Lyon||49||154||90|
|Bell||c Johnson||b Lyon||0||2||1|
|Stokes||c Smith||b Lyon||19||66||55|
|Bairstow||c Haddin||b Johnson||21||45||28|
|Broad||c Clarke||b Lyon||0||3|
|Australia 2nd Inns: 233-2 (51.5 ov)|
|Rogers||c Bairstow||b Panesar||116||201||155|
|Warner||c Bairstow||b Stokes||25||70||47|
Having already given up the Urn earlier in the series, England's bastions have been fighting for little more than pride over the past four days, but even that wasn't enough to muster increased resilience against an Australian onslaught.
With one day left to spare, the Southern Hemisphere hosts cantered to victory, capitalising on the 116 struck by opener Chris Rogers.
And the Middlesex-based veteran was clearly overjoyed with his century, too, per BBC Sport:
Australia batsman Chris Rogers: "It doesn't get better than this. To win a Boxing Day Test and get a hundred is what dreams are made of."— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 29, 2013
England's priorities were in restraining the home team from claiming the runs needed to solidify their victory and thus open up their own possibility of staging some kind of comeback.
Geoffrey Boycott commented on exactly this, saying that England had "shot themselves in the foot," following Day 3's events:
No such miracle was on hand, however, and the visitors were unable to muster the spirit of 1998, with no manner of team selection or batting order looking likely to rescue England from slumping to a 5-0 deficit.
Just not good enough England...it's embarrassing !!— Ian Botham (@BeefyBotham) December 29, 2013
By the time Rogers was through, the 116-run advantage that England had held on Day 3 had been reduced to rubble, and it was Michael Clarke and Shane Watson who fittingly helped finish matters off at the MCG.
Aus win by 8 wkts and go 4-0 up. Watson and Clarke have as good a man hug as you will see on a sports field. England dejected— Dean Wilson (@CricketMirror) December 29, 2013
Bad luck was made to look even less fortunate for Alastair Cook as England struggled with even the most simple of tasks and allowed mistakes both in the bowl and in the field slip through their grasp.
Captain Cook might also be called into question for some of his decision-making, the withdrawal of his best bowler Stuart Broad being among the most controversial.
England desperately need a confident, positive, aggressive captain. That basically leaves one option - @KP24 .— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 29, 2013
The Melbourne meeting wasn't like the rest of the series up until now. Here, England had held a position of power and made Australia fight for their triumph.
However, the result was ultimately the same and arguably the most encouraging for the hosts as a result.
Both teams now head to Sydney with extremely different mindsets in place, and one would have to admit that an out-of-shape England look unlikely to end their trip with even a single series Test to their name.